You've seen actor John Turturro in films like "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?," "Transformers" and "Barton Fink." But did you know he's also a director? "Passione," his fourth film, is a musical exploration of the Italian city of Naples, and it opens in L.A. this weekend. He talked with Off-Ramp producer Kevin Ferguson.
“[Naples] is one of those places that really reminds me of New York City in the 70s,” Turturro said. “It can be a little dirty at times, but it’s really beautiful, it’s mysterious, it’s very sexy, and it’s really really alive. There’s an authenticity to it. And the people are really really expressive.”
“And music, it probably has the biggest jukebox in the world because it’s one of the oldest cities in the world. They have a tremendous classical culture and popular culture, and those two sides of the street exchanged ideas. It’s where the mandolin was built, and first guitars were built. What we think of as folk music, the guys who sing these ballads with a guitar, they were one of the cultures that invented that,” he said.
Turturro also touched on the differences between American and Italian response to the film:
“The only difference is that Italian audiences are familiar with the song. That’s it. The reactions are not that different. Italian audiences are maybe more willing to applaud during the movie,” Turturro said. “Music is a universal language; it’s everyone’s second language. I’ve loved plenty of music, I’ve loved the Buena Vista Social Club, I didn’t know what the songs were about. It’s like an arrow to your heart or your soul. People are surprised [after viewing the film], ‘Wow, I didn’t know that kind of music came from Naples or Italy,’ because they know the stereotype or the nostalgic version of it, which becomes a cliché. And you’ve got to destroy a cliché to get down to the genesis of that expression.”